The Role Of The Ghost In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

The Shakespeare’s play Hamlet opens with the appearance of the ghost and it plays an important role throughout the performance. The role of the ghost is to sustain the plot because it is notified only by general terms “ghost”, ”spirit”, “it”, “this thing”, “goblin”. The fact that the Ghost speaks only with Hamlet raises the suspense, and he wonders if “Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell”. The ghost manipulates and pushes Hamlet to take revenge. When Hamlet hears about the death of his father from the ghost (a super force) that his father has been killed by his brother (Hamlet’s uncle) he takes the responsibility to prove this and he gets several strategies but he doesn’t get any real proof.

“But Hamlet‟s blunt memory seems to be a constant danger, so the role of the ghost is mnemonic. The memory it controls has a special quality: “Remember me” is a magic phrase which operates a volte-face in Hamlet‟s existence. In a blend of pagan and Christian elements that is true to the whole economy of the play, this haunting phrase is reminiscent of the Bible (Luke 22:19 – The Last Supper) and Saint Paul‟s First Epistle to the Corinthians. ”

The ghost in “Hamlet” is a catholic element because it is a dead man spirit that comes from purgatory. Purgatory in the catholic religion is a space between heaven and hell. Purgatory is a waiting area for the dead people to be called on the day of judgement. In the catholic belief if somebody died unexpectedly by murder this dead person comes back to haunt the earth in the shape of a ghost to do justice.

Hamlet rather listens the voice of his father (ghost) than his own intuition because the bound with his father is stronger. Hamlet hides behind “the fool mask” because the mask offers his freedom of grief. “Indeed, the whole of the first act is built on the advice of fathers to sons, fathers to children, and it culminates with the awful revelations of Hamlet’s father, the Ghost, confirming what we have already begun to suspect: that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. ”

“He has imagined again in his “mind’s eyes” the tale of murder that the Ghost will tell” and yet he is postponing the action, he can’t do it, he needs a prove but he doesn’t get any. “To highlight Hamlet’s inability to take action, Shakespeare includes other characters capable of taking resolute and headstrong revenge as required. Fortinbras travels many miles to take his revenge and ultimately succeeds in conquering Denmark; Laertes plots to kill Hamlet to avenge the death of his father, Polonius. ”

Hamlet is not a murder, that’s why he cannot kill his uncle, his drama comes from the fact that apparently everyone has forgotten about his dead father, the old Hamlet. Especially his mother, Gertrude who now marries with Claudius. That’s why in her chamber Hamlet becomes so irrationally and kills Polonius, he hopes that behind the arras is the king: “Nay, I know not: Is it the king?” The ghost appears there too but Gertrude sees “nothing”. “Hamlet, even in full life, is not sure of his existence. In this tragedy which is at the same time a philosophy – everything floats, hesitates, shuffles, staggers, becomes discomposed, scatters, and is dispersed. ”

“The Ghost’s command to kill Claudius requires young Hamlet to become old Hamlet, acting for and as his father. At the same time the conventions of mimetic revenge require that he also become Claudius, his new “father” (“Be as ourself in Denmark”)”. He doesn’t want to become a king, he just wants somehow not to disappoint his father (the ghost) and respect its instructions. He speaks only with respect about his father “so excellent a king”. “The possible association of the ghost of his father with both places is, in effect, the root of his dilemma. His memory of his father is of a godlike man who seems to him to sum up what a man is. His experience of the Ghost is of a shadowy and tormented figure suffering the fires of purgatory for his sins, dwelling with anguish on the horrible details of his murder, tormented with the thought of his wife’s lust, and calling for revenge. The result is that Hamlet’s idea of “man” and of the “divine” is radically divided between a noble memory and a horrifying apparition. But in the Ghost Hamlet sees another side of his father which leads to a deep division in his mind, which remains inarticulate. ”

In conclusion, the role of the Ghost besides to produce suspense, to demonstrate that “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” and besides its power to control all the narrative thread of the play and besides even its high impact to Hamlet that in the moment he sees it his life is instantaneous changed, the role of the Ghost is to prove us that unlike Gertrude “Nothing at all; yet all that is I see” who is so sure that she sees everything and if she doesn’t see then there is nothing and no one can see more than her, the role of the Ghost is to prove us that is always more “to see”, more than a ghost, a spirit of old Hamlet, that have been murdered by his brother. If the ghost is real or not, if Hamlet really goes insane was Shakespeare’s intention to keep us focus and mystified.

Works Cited

  1. Bloom, Harold. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations: Macbeth—New Edition. 2010. Digital.
  2. Bottez, Alina. Other And Mother In Shakespeare’s Hamlet And The Operas It Inspired. Universitatea din Bucureşti, 9 September 2012. Garber, Marjorie.
  3. Shakespare Aftel All. Pantheon, 2004. Print. http://ubr. rev. unibuc. ro/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2-Alina-Bottez-1-2012. pdf.
  4. Hugo, Victor. William Shakespeare – fragments (1864; translated by Melville B. Anderson, first published in English by A. C. McClurg and Co. , Chicago, IL, USA, 1886) in Westralian Worker, 10 January 1919, page 2. Web. http://john. curtin. edu. au/fitzgerald/collection/pen20. html.
  5. Jamieson, Lee. 'Hamlet and Revenge. ' ThoughtCo, Sep. 10, 2017, https://www. thoughtco. com/revenge-in-hamlet-2984979.
  6. Scofield, Martin. The Ghost of Hamlet. Cambridge University Press, 1980. Digital. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Universal. 2005. Print.
10 December 2020
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